Berry Tramel

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KU ticket scandal: a breach of trust

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 27, 2013 at 3:20 pm •  Published: May 27, 2010

The University of Kansas ticket scandal, which has reached Oklahoma shores with its ties to OU, is a breach of trust with fans.

KU personnel, including former OU employees Tom and Charlotte Blubaugh, allegedly sold Jayhawk tickets and pocketed the money, and the KU report alleges the former OU employees did the same thing in Norman.

Kansas Athletics Director Lew Perkins answers questions during a news conference Wednesday, May 26, 2010, in Lawrence, Kan. The University of Kansas said Wednesday that a secretive scam by six university employees included the "inappropriate" sale of $1 million worth of men's basketball and football tickets over the past five years. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) ORG XMIT: KSOW101
Kansas Athletics Director Lew Perkins answers questions during a news conference Wednesday, May 26, 2010, in Lawrence, Kan. The University of Kansas said Wednesday that a secretive scam by six university employees included the "inappropriate" sale of $1 million worth of men's basketball and football tickets over the past five years. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) ORG XMIT: KSOW101

The tickets in question are estimated to have been worth at least $1 million and perhaps as high as $3 million. That’s what a pending federal investigation will focus on. But KU knows that’s not the biggest cost to the Jayhawks and would not be the biggest cost to OU if it’s found that the Blubaughs did the same thing in Norman.

The biggest cost is the breach of trust.

Think of it this way. You’re an OU football fan and have been on the season-ticket waiting list for years. Or a KU basketball fan, waiting for the impossible dream of getting season tickets to Allen Fieldhouse. Then you hear that the Jayhawks, and maybe the Sooners several years ago, had enough spare tickets that ticket managers were selling them to scalpers and whoever else, with the proceeds going in their pockets.

Or maybe you’re already a season-ticket holder. But the most prized possession in the programs — a KU NCAA Tournament ticket or an OU-Texas football ticket — aren’t always accessible through ethical means. You discover that ticket brokers have jumped ahead of you in line, and the money’s not even going to the athletic department that has your devotion.

That’s a plate-breaker.

This is no small story. This is an allegation of high-dollar fraud. This is a serious schism in the school/fan relationship. The next time a Kansas fan doesn’t get March Madness tickets, what’s the fan to think? The next time an OU fan doesn’t get bowl or Texas tickets, the assumptions will come naturally.

The longstanding culture of college athletics is one of taking fans for granted. The arrival of multiple major-league franchises in Oklahoma City has shown us that pro sports do a much better job of catering to fans than do colleges.

And now this, with the Kansas ticket scandal and residue all the way down here. Universities keep saying trust us, and fans keep saying OK, and some day, that answer might be different.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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